Steve M. at No More Mr. Nice Blog makes an excellent point (boldface mine):
I’m not part of the gun culture — I don’t own guns and haven’t known many people who do. But I don’t condemn the culture outright. It seems to me that most gun owners are right when they say that their use of guns is careful and responsible.
But the problem is that the gun culture doesn’t even seem to acknowledge the possibility that some people really shouldn’t go anywhere near a gun….
How do we think about alcohol in this culture?
I drink — not much, but I like drinking. Most people I know like drinking. But I don’t have trouble keeping multiple thoughts about drinking in my head simultaneously: Drinking can be very pleasant — but I shouldn’t drink to excess, and everyone should avoid drinking and driving, and drinking can be a problem if it’s your way of dealing with emotional distress, and some people simply can’t handle drinking at all. I think most of us can hold all those thoughts in our heads at once. We’ll proudly raise a toast at our daughter’s wedding, but we also know that alcoholics need to steer clear of the bottle.
Is the gun culture able to think like that? It seems to me that the gun culture thinks gun use is healthy recreation for everyone except criminals and terrorists. Guns are always good for what ails you! Certainly it’s never worrisome if someone in emotional pain is surrounded by guns. I grew up hunting. Guns have always been a part of my life. That’s true for everyone around here. And on and on….
Members of the gun culture, I’m not recommending that you forswear guns — I’m saying that you should recognize that gun use isn’t healthy for everyone. Maybe you need to take a closer look at some of your fellow gun users. Maybe some of them need an intervention — which doesn’t mean that your gun use is a problem. They just need to be separated from guns.
It’s worth noting that Mercer washed out of basic training–the Army didn’t think he should carry a gun.